Harlem 'ambush': NYPD Officer Jason Rivera honored at vigil: 'Violence won't divide us'

Officer Wilbert Mora, 27, remained in critical condition after the Friday night shooting that took Jason Rivera's life

Holding candles, holding each other’s hands and holding onto hope, hundreds of mourners gathered Saturday night outside the New York City police precinct where rookie Officer Jason Rivera worked before he was gunned down in the line of duty Friday.

He was 22 years old. 

"Violence won’t divide us. It will unite us," Mayor Eric Adams told the mourners outside the 32nd Precinct in Harlem, according to WCBS-TV in New York City.

Adams said he was committed to getting illegal guns off the city’s streets. Rivera was killed by a suspect firing a .45-caliber Glock handgun that had been stolen in Baltimore in 2017, authorities have said. 

Hundreds of New York City police officers and firefighters gather Saturday at the 32nd Precinct in Harlem for a vigil honoring two officers who were shot in Harlem on Friday night. One police officer died, the other was critically wounded. 

Hundreds of New York City police officers and firefighters gather Saturday at the 32nd Precinct in Harlem for a vigil honoring two officers who were shot in Harlem on Friday night. One police officer died, the other was critically wounded.  (Getty Images)

"We’re in a battle with a small number of people that believe they will hold our city hostage with violence," the mayor added, according to the AM New York Metro newspaper. "We made it too easy and too comfortable for people to carry guns in New York. We made it too easy for us to have a gun environment in this country and in the city. So we need help from the federal government."

Michelle Rodriguez, who was Rivera’s neighbor growing up in New York City’s Inwood neighborhood, told WCBS he was a "caring" "gentleman."

New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaks as hundreds of police officers and firefighters gather at the 32nd Precinct in Harlem for vigil honoring two officers who were shot Friday night.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaks as hundreds of police officers and firefighters gather at the 32nd Precinct in Harlem for vigil honoring two officers who were shot Friday night. (Getty Images)

"Helping with bags, looking for parking. He was always available to me, to all of us," Rodriguez said. "He was very proud to be going to the academy to become an officer and look what happened. It’s just devastating."

Rivera joined the department in 2020 and was called to a domestic dispute in Harlem Friday night along with two other officers. Rivera and Officer Wilbert Mora, 27, made their way down a narrow apartment hallway to a back bedroom where a woman said her son who had been threatening her was located. 

Ingrid Lewis-Martin, chief adviser to New York City Mayor Eric Adams, speaks Saturday night as hundreds of police officers and firefighters honor two officers who were shot in Harlem on Friday night.

Ingrid Lewis-Martin, chief adviser to New York City Mayor Eric Adams, speaks Saturday night as hundreds of police officers and firefighters honor two officers who were shot in Harlem on Friday night. (Getty Images)

Lashawn McNeil, 47, allegedly kicked open the bedroom door and started shooting Rivera and Mora without warning. They were rushed to a hospital where Rivera was pronounced dead and Mora remained in critical condition, undergoing surgery. McNeil was also in critical condition after a third officer shot him while he was allegedly trying to flee. 

"Violence won’t divide us. It will unite us," Mayor Eric Adams told the mourners outside the 32nd Precinct in Harlem, according to WCBS-TV in New York City.

"Violence won’t divide us. It will unite us," Mayor Eric Adams told the mourners outside the 32nd Precinct in Harlem, according to WCBS-TV in New York City. (Getty Images)

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"We’re in a battle with a small number of people that believe they will hold our city hostage with violence," Mayor Adams told mourners outside the 32nd Precinct in Harlem, according to the AM New York Metro newspaper. 

"We’re in a battle with a small number of people that believe they will hold our city hostage with violence," Mayor Adams told mourners outside the 32nd Precinct in Harlem, according to the AM New York Metro newspaper.  (Getty Images)

"He was always smiling, a friendly guy," Officer Victor Guzman who works in the 32nd precinct and came through the academy with Rivera said, according to the New York Post. "He was young, 22 years old. It’s a lot."

Adams said Saturday that "some would say 95% of the city is good. I say 99% of the city is good. Let’s weed out that 1%."